Croatian Clams and Rice

Clams and Rice

Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is known for its seafood and shellfish—the oysters of Ston are justifiably legendary—and its restaurants all serve variations of “shells salad.” None that I ate, though, were as enticing as one this clams and rice recipe that I’ve adapted from Croatian Cookbook by Nikica Gamulin Gama. Use different sizes and types of clams, cockles, even mussels and scallops. Just be sure to have some large-sized clams to stuff. Serve clams and rice as an appetizer with a bottle of chilled white wine or rosé on a warm day.–Jeff Koehler

LC Clam Cleaning Note

It seems that each cook has a different trick for cleaning the pesky sand out of clams. Adding cornmeal, oatmeal, or pepper to the water. Leaving a metal knife in the bowl while the clams soak. And so on. There are seemingly countless schools of thought. Here’s what works for us. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 4 cups cool water. Add a few drops vinegar and let the clams soak for 30 minutes. Change the water, add another teaspoon salt, and soak for another 30 minutes. Drain, rinse well, and drain again. Ta-da! Sand-free clams.

Croatian Clams and Rice

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4
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  • 3 pounds assorted clams, including some large ones, purged of sand (see LC Note above)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup short- or medium-grain rice
  • 8 black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 8 green olives, pitted and chopped
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1. Fill a pot 1/2- to 1-inch deep with water and add the clams. Bring to a boil, cover, and steam until the clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Drain the clams and transfer to a platter to cool, discarding any that did not open.
  • 2. Without breaking the hinges of the clams, remove the meat. Reserve the largest shells. Chop the meatier clams into pieces; leave the smaller ones whole.
  • 3. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring an abundant amount of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and the rice, and boil until al dente, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain the rice, rinse briefly under cold water, and drain again.
  • 4. In a medium bowl, combine the clams and rice and olives. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix carefully.
  • 5. Spoon the rice mixture into the larger reserved shells and serve on a platter.

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